How To Deal with Manipulative Co-Workers

You know how manipulative people act—they act as if they hold your life in the palm of their hand, always on their toes to control you. If you work with this kind of person, every working day is nothing short of hellish. And you have probably tried many schemes to avoid working with these people, like asking to be transferred to another department or attempting to resign from work. Fact is, you cannot completely avoid them. You might relocate, but manipulative people are everywhere. The solution is not avoidance but learning how to deal with them. If you are currently working with manipulative co-workers, here’s how you can survive each working day.

  1. Be patient. You probably know by heart that patience is a virtue. The challenge now is to practice being patient when around a manipulative person. Understand that manipulative people didn’t become manipulative by chance. There is something that triggered this kind of behavior, which can be traced back to a person’s past experiences and environment. Know this trigger. If you know why a certain person became controlling, you can be more patient and understanding.
  2. Confront them. Manipulative co-workers always go overboard, acting like someone in authority. If a co-worker in the same position is trying to manipulate you, you need to confront him. Tell him exactly how he is being manipulative and how it is affecting you. Accept the possibility that your co-worker might refuse to admit he is wrong. It’s okay. What’s important is that you’ve brought to his attention his manipulative behavior, and there is a great chance of him thinking through it and assessing his office conduct.
  3. Try not to talk behind their back. If you can’t put up with the behavior of your manipulative co-workers, directly tell them that. Talking secretly about it with your other co-workers does nothing to help. Besides, you can be guilty of office gossiping, which can possibly create a faction in the workplace.
  4. Demonstrate your competence. Manipulative people usually believe that they are more competent than the rest of the employees. So they try to control their co-workers to go their way. But show them otherwise. Make it known that you, along with your other co-workers, are competent and can do a job well.
  5. Show them your value as an employee. Maybe you have been slacking the past months, and your co-worker took it upon himself to help you function well. But you take his efforts as manipulative. If that’s the case, you better shape up. If you need no assistance from any co-worker and don’t want to be controlled, do everything you can to show your capability and value as an employee. When your co-worker sees you are doing well, he will leave you alone to do your own thing.

Whenever confronting a manipulative co-worker, remember to be gentle and polite. And please avoid mentioning the words “manipulative,” “manipulate,” “controlling,” and “control.” Your co-worker might not like to be associated with such words and might think you are labeling him. Therefore, think of creative, non-accusing ways to tell him how he is being, well, manipulative and controlling.


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